CTAR CHS MLS + SCCMLS to Operate Virtually

Staff Report From Charleston CEO

Wednesday, April 1st, 2020

Following the guidelines handed down from SC Governor McMaster this afternoon (March 15) regarding school closings and the limitation of public gatherings, the CTAR, CHS MLS and SCCMLS building will close effective immediately, through March 31.

This includes cancellation of all classes, events, meetings and planned gatherings. Registration fees for CE classes will be fully refunded.

We have been preparing for this announcement and are prepared to continue business as usual from a virtual position—all Association and MLS employees will be available via phone and/or email through March 31.

All support services and employees will be available Monday-Friday, during normal operating hours (9am-5pm). Please find a list of direct contacts for staff on our website.

Thank you for your patience and understanding during this unprecedented time and assure you we will do everything we can to provide you with the outstanding services you are accustomed to during this closure.

How will it affect my license renewal?
All required license renewal courses can be completed online. There is a 10-hour CE bundle available from our online provider—please note you will also need to complete the additional 6 CTAR-required hours, which can also be taken online.

How could COVID-19 affect my business?
The National Association of Realtors® has produced a helpful guide for navigating your client relationships during the spread of this virus.

When an infectious disease, such as coronavirus, is associated with a specific population or nationality, fear and anxiety may lead to social stigma and potential discrimination. Realtors® must be mindful of their obligations under the Fair Housing Act, and be sure not to discriminate against any particular segment of the population. While the coronavirus outbreak began in Wuhan, China, that does not provide a basis for treating Chinese persons or persons of Asian descent differently.

May I ask clients or others I interact with in my real estate business if they have traveled recently, or have any signs of respiratory illness?

Yes, you may ask clients or others about their recent travel, particularly to areas identified as having an increased risk of coronavirus. To avoid potential fair housing issues, be sure to ask all clients the same screening questions based on current, factual information from public health authorities.

I typically drive my clients to showings. May I refuse to drive potential clients to see homes?

Yes. However, be sure that any change to your business practices is applied equally to all clients. You may refuse to drive clients who show signs of illness or reveal recent travel to areas of increased risk of coronavirus, or you may instead decide to stop driving clients in your car altogether, and simply arrange to meet clients at a property. If you do continue to drive clients in your car, it is a good idea to frequently clean and disinfect surfaces like door handles and seat belt latches, and to ask clients to use hand sanitizer when getting in and out of the car.

Should I still conduct open houses on my listed properties?

Speak openly and honestly with your seller about the pros and cons of holding an open house. Assess the risk based on your specific location, and direct your clients to local and state health authorities for specific information about the severity of the risk in your area. You could also propose alternative marketing opportunities for your seller’s consideration, such as video tours and other methods to virtually tour a property.

If you do hold an open house, consider requiring all visitors to disinfect their hands upon entering the home, and provide alcohol-based hand sanitizers at the entryway, as well as soap and disposable towels in bathrooms. If you decide to do any cleaning at your client’s home, be sure to check with your client in advance about any products you plan to use. After the open house, recommend that your client clean and disinfect their home, especially commonly touched areas like doorknobs and faucet handles.

What precautions should brokers consider taking in their offices?

Brokers should use their best judgment when formulating a plan. First, brokers should implement a mandatory “stay-home” policy for any staff member or agent exhibiting any sign of illness, and depending on where the broker is geographically located, a broker may want to consider imposing a mandatory remote work policy for employees and instructing agents to stay out of the office.

In addition, taking measures such as holding virtual meetings or potentially postponing or cancelling in-person meetings or events may be good measures to take to limit close contact between individuals.  Be sure to monitor updates from the CDC, as well as your state and local health authorities for additional information and guidance on holding meetings or events. For travel considerations, review NAR’s “Coronavirus:  A Guide for REALTOR® Associations”.

Finally, do not panic, stay informed, and use your best judgment. The situation is rapidly changing, so focus on putting policies and procedures in place to keep your employees informed, safe, and to avoid business disruption in the event the situation worsens.

What preventative measures may be taken to reduce the risk of contracting and spreading coronavirus?

The same preventative measures recommended to prevent influenza are also effective in reducing the risk of contracting or spreading coronavirus.

These measures include:

Staying home if you have a fever, cough, shortness of breath or any other cold or flu-like symptom

Washing your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer

Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands

Avoiding close contact with anyone who is sick

Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces

Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or cough or sneeze into your sleeve

What should I do if I have symptoms of coronavirus?

Call your doctor. In non-emergency situations, call your healthcare professional first. Do not visit your doctor or go to the hospital until they tell you to come in. If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for medical advice.

MUSC Health has recently developed a secure, virtual care option which will help with infection prevention and control, while allowing patients to receive care without exposing themselves or others to further sickness in the hospital setting.

MUSC Health virtual urgent care is offering free consultations and screenings to anyone experiencing COVID-19-like symptoms located in South Carolina with the promo code COVID19, for both new and existing patients.